Day light savings time starts in about a week, so summer must be just around the corner. Time to ramp up on the Sauvignon Blanc–starting California. 2015 saw a rough year for grape growers, translating into few grapes. The good news for wine drinkers is that the fruit that was produced was of great quality.
Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blancs
s standard Sauvignon Blanc has always been a good value–loaded with all sorts of citrus flavors and nice clean minerality. 12.00
Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc and GP River Ranches Sauvignon Blanc
Geyser Peak River Ranches Sauvignon Blanc kicks it up a couple of notches. Harvested from the prized Russian River Valley, the juice went straight into the stainless steel tanks with some specialty yeast strains–enhancing the aromatics of this little gem. GP River Ranches brings on gooseberry, fig and mint on a finish that goes on and on. Interesting how two wines from the same varietal can produce such uniquely different experiences. Vivi la differance. 22.00
Rutherford is home to some of the biggest names in Napa, but I have to confess, I hadn’t tasted anything from Swanson Vineyards until recently. Turns out it was love at first sight. Sometimes I find Pinot Grigio to be delightful–sometimes, Meh. Swanson was definitely delightful. Great floral aroma, tangy, complex flavors–bringing both fruit and dryness into the picture. Outstanding summer-sipper. 21.00
My family tasted the Swanson Vineyards merlot last week and raved about it. My daughter, who knows what she likes in red wines, compared the Swanson merlot to a very expensive red a good friend brought to dinner recently. This little beauty seriously reminded me of just how good a merlot can be. Of course it does have a healthy splash (12%) of Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Verdot in the mix. Winemaker Robin Akhurst clearly knows what’s what when it comes to blending. 32.00
Justin 2014 Isosceles
Justin didn’t get to be one of the big dogs on the Central Coast by accident. And Isosceles, didn’t become Justin’s flagship wine for nothing. A classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, Isosceles clearly demonstrates how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. Deeply flavored Paso Robles fruit is meticulously sorted, fermented separately, and then aged in 100% new French oak for twenty-one months. The result is rich black fruit, silky tannins and deep, lasting flavor. Whether you’re looking for a great red to grace the dinner or you’re just aiming to enhance your cellar, Isosceles delivers–in spades. 72.00
Justin 2014 Isosceles
‘Tis the season–for new releases. And I’ve just got my hands on the latest sauvignon blanc from Justin Vineyards & Winery. One of the nice things about a fresh, young bottle of sauvignon blanc is that you don’t have to wait to enjoy it–it’s loaded with flavor and ready to drink now. Central Coast fruit displays tropical and citrus fruit flavors with a little herbal character in the background, Here is a crisp, finely textured sauvignon blanc just made for spring and summer days ahead. 16.00
Justin 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
Okay, the name of this wine is quite a mouthful–but as it turns out, the wine itself is quite a mouthful. Decoding German wine labels takes a little doing but there is a lot of information packed in there. Wine maker Nik Weis’ “Alte Reben” refers to “old vine”–in this case a very select 22 acre parcel in the cool climate Saar Valley. “Kabinett” denotes a riesling made from grapes picked during the initial harvest–the grapes are ripe, but over-ripe.
A bit drier than most Kabinetts, “Kabinett Feinherb” has lip-smacking acidity balanced by just a bit of residual sugar. The flavors are so rich and lush, it is just hard to put the glass down. This bottle is made for Asian food of almost any kind. At just over 10% abv, Feinherb could also play well at lunch for on a picnic. 18.00
S. Urbans-Hof Wiltinger “Alte Reben” Kabinett Feinherb Riesling, 2015
Cosentino Winery has dressed up Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel–one of its long time favorites–with a cool new label. Some clever graphic designer created a classy cigar band look for the label. I know it’s supposed to just about what is in the bottle, but really, doesn’t great packaging make an impression–especially as a gift.
The newly released Cigar lives up to its reputation as a big, bold Zin–coming in at 15.5% abv. That translates into a big mouthfeel. Deep fruit character, spice, coffee, and chocolate all come together on a long finish. 20.00
Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel, 2015
RE:FIND Limoncello is heavenly–‘nough said.
Except it’s hard not to rave on about it. The color is like liquid sunshine, the aroma all about fresh citrus, and the rich mouth-feel of tangy lemon pulls it all together. For those who think Italy has a lock on this magic elixir I say check out what Paso Robles’ RE:FIND Handcrafted Spirits can do with locally grown Femminillo St. Teresa lemons and their own high proof vodka distilled from local grapes. Doesn’t get much more home-grown than that. 26.00/375ml
Catalina Sounds 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2015 Pinot Noir
Outside of a nasty earthquake now and then, New Zealand is a little bit of heaven in the South Pacific. With its pristine environment and generally cool climate, it’s no wonder that NZ produces classy (and affordable) wines like 2015 Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc and Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir. Sourced from the renowned Marlborough region at the north end of the South Island both wines show wonderful varietal character. The Sauvignon Blanc is a mouthwatering combination of fruit and acidity. Looooong finish. SRP 16.00
2015 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir is brings on cherry and raspberry flavors wrapped around soft tannins and balanced acidity. This little beauty drinks like a lot more than the SRP of 19.00
2015 Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc and 2015 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir
Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc takes its name from the fact that the number of vineyards in the Marlborough wine region has increased almost exponentially in the last twenty years. Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc proves that there is always room for quality. Citrus, guava, and and herbal qualities make this little gem the perfect poster child for the region’s acclaimed Sauvignon Blanc. SRP 13.00
2014 Nanny Goat Vineyard Pinot Noir comes from the far south of the South Island–and
Nanny Goat Pinot Noir & Croowded House Sauvignon Blanc
at 45 degrees south latitude, the Nanny Goat Vineyard is likely one of the southern-most wine regions in the world. Of course “South” means cool in the Southern Hemisphere and Nanny Goat is a true cool climate Pinot. Black cherry and cranberry ride along on a wave of herbs and smooth tannins. Worth the long trip from the ends of the earth. And a deal at SRP 23.00
Left: 2014 Nanny Goat Vineyard Pinot Noir. Right: 2015 Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc
Mount Veeder Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is in a class of its own. And while the label may say “Napa Valley”, the grapes that go into this intensely concentrated cabernet come from mountain sides high above the Napa Valley floor. Mount Veeder Winery’s rugged vineyards mean that virtually everything is done by hand–and it shows. Winemaker Janet Myers considers the 2014 vintage to be a, “Classic Mount Veeder with hallmark flavors of earth, dark berries and chocolate, and hints of sweet bay leaf.” Location, location, location…you can taste it in the glass. 44.00
Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014
Old World comes to the New World. Over the years, a lot has been made of the fact that Oregon and the Burgundy region of France share the same latitude: 45 degrees North. For the past quarter century, there has been another connection. The Drouhin family–who have been making wine in Burgundy for over a century–have also been making wine on their estate in the Willamette Valley. As in France, Pinot is their passion, but that’s not the only grape on the vines in Oregon.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon (DDO) Chardonnay Arthur 2014 showcases what ideal weather and artful wine making can produce. Arthur shows wonderful body and a rich, full mouthfeel. And yes, there is that clean crisp acidity that you might expect from a classy French white. 35.00
2014 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay Arthur
Domaine Drouhin’s 2015 Cloudline Pinot Noir is a deal at about 18.00. And while the price looks like entry-level OR Pinot, this one can play with the big boys. Rich dark berry aromas and flavors carry through nicely to the finish. “Welcome to Oregon!” as DDO says of Cloudline. 18.00
Cloudline 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2014 Roserock Pinot Noir from DDO was sourced from estate blocks in the Eola-Amity Hills part of the Willamette Valley. Look for spicy aromas and intense dark fruit flavors. Roserock shows the kind of balance and depth of character that should keep this handsome wine drinking well for years to come. 35.00
Roserock and Dundee Hills Pinot Noirs from DDO
Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills 2014 Pinot Noir: You’ve got to wonder just how jealous the cousins back in Burgundy might be of this cheeky American Pinot. A classic marriage of aromas and flavors and aged in top quality oak barrels from the old country, Dundee Hills is an impressive cool climate pinot noir with complex layers of fruit and spice. 45.00